Synonyms are words that have similar meanings. Instruction with synonyms begins in kindergarten, when lesson plans include activities that teach students to distinguish shades of meaning among verbs describing the same action (walk, march, strut).
In grades 1-3, teachers create lesson plans that extend synonyms and shades of meaning to show the nuances in word meanings. For example, lesson plans in these grades may include verbs that differ in action (walk, tip-toe, scramble), adjectives that differ in intensity (big, huge, enormous), closely related verbs and adjectives (yell, scream, screech and thin, skinny, scrawny), and other related words that describe states of mind (wondered, doubted, suspected).
Upper elementary students are expected to be able to use synonyms and antonyms, words with opposite meanings, to demonstrate understanding of, and describe relationships between, particular words. Middle and high school students analyze words for nuances such as denotations and connotations. As students begin to understand synonyms, they can make better word choices when writing, and can use their knowledge of synonyms to help understand new and unfamiliar terms.
Common Core State Standards Related to Synonyms
Distinguish shades of meaning among verbs describing the same general action (e.g., walk, march, strut, prance) by acting out the meanings.
Distinguish shades of meaning among verbs differing in manner (e.g., look, peek, glance, stare, glare, scowl) and adjectives differing in intensity (e.g., large, gigantic) by defining or choosing them or by acting out the meanings.
Distinguish shades of meaning among closely related verbs (e.g., toss, throw, hurl) and closely related adjectives (e.g., thin, slender, skinny, scrawny).
Distinguish shades of meaning among related words that describe states of mind or degrees of certainty (e.g., knew, believed, suspected, heard, wondered).
Demonstrate understanding of words by relating them to their opposites (antonyms) and to words with similar but not identical meanings (synonyms).
Use the relationship between particular words (e.g., synonyms, antonyms, homographs) to better understand each of the words.
VocabularySpellingCity has learning activities that not only help students understand synonyms, but also expands their conceptual word knowledge by providing synonyms and antonyms for words on any of their lists. FlashCards and Word Videos are study tools that students customize to help them learn and review vocabulary words. Students can add contextual sentences and student-friendly definitions, as well as synonyms and antonyms for words on their list.
Word-O-Rama’s game show format is a fun way for students to test their word knowledge by identifying each word based on a sentence, definition, antonym, or synonym.
Try Word-O-Rama with a K-1st Grade Synonyms word list.
Sentence and Paragraph Writing allow teachers to assign writing tasks that can incorporate antonyms and synonyms. Teachers may choose one of the preset directions for Sentence Writing such as: write a synonym for each word.
Try Sentence Writing with a 2nd-3rd Grade Synonyms word list.